ladyofastolat: (Default)
- Somebody really needs to design a book that doesn't fall over. I've spent the day removing armfuls of books, inserting RFID tags, then putting them back again. Every time you take an armful off the shelves, there's a CRASH CRASH CRASH of the remaining books falling over, and something a THUD THUD THUD of them all falling on the floor. Something Must Be Done. Since our shelves are metal, I've often wondered if this Something should be little magnets at the bottom of the book, but this would make it hard to squoosh the entire shelf of books up after someone takes a few out. More thought is required.

- Seen in a book I was tagging (but paraphrased here): "I want to start by exploding an oft-quoted myth: that some children are just non-sporty. There is no such thing as a non-sporty child!" Really?

- Why are most recipe books enormous glossy things with tight binding that won't stay open?

- Are there regional variations in the way drivers thank other drivers who've given way to them?
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
I'm at work today, alone in the building. I've posted before about the strange noises from the roof, which I've explained away as rooks doing clog dancing. Well, a few minutes ago, there was an incredibly loud rhythmic metallic thumping, that grew louder and louder and more frenzied, and was followed by an explosion of corvid screaming, an almighty groaning sound from the whole building, and some claw-like scampering.

Now, I've seen l those videos of super intelligent crows, and I've also seen clips of clever squirrels on assault courses. All I can conclude is that the rooks and red squirrels from the neighbouring line of conifers have combined with the zombies from the nearby graveyard. What I heard was their final rally under their charismatic leader, after which they will depart to bring all of England under their dread rule. So if you don't hear from me again... Hold on. What's that scratching at the door? Must inve

Heat

Jun. 25th, 2010 04:59 pm
ladyofastolat: (unbowed)
It should be illegal to build office space in the second floor of a warehouse with a flat metal roof, with barely-opening windows only on one side. Ascending the stairs is like rising into a fiery, airless hell. Even two desktop fans is not enough to make it bearable. Thank goodness for pear cider and ice cubes. [EDIT: Said cider not consumed at work, but after getting home.)

(Also, thank goodness that, unlike Pellinor, I don't have to spend the weekend running around in full armour, and sleeping in a greenhouse-like tent. I'd rather have torrential rain in a tent than full sunlight from dawn.)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
At work, there is a kitchen about 20 steps from my desk, and at any time I like during the day, I can wander in and make myself a hot drink, and bring it back to my desk to drink while working. I was quite horrified to discover the other day that Pellinor has to buy any drink that he consumes from the staff canteen, and can only do so at designated break times. I'm curious to find out if his situation is normal and I'm just very lucky, of if I'm the normal one, and he's horribly deprived.

Poll behind a cut to save space )
ladyofastolat: (Fantasy)
Putting together publicity material for a fantasy-themed summer reading challenge produces some interesting quotes. I feel the urge to try to write a fantasy story in which all these quotes appear:

"Can you blow up the wizard?"
"Have I shrunk the fairy too much?"
"The wizard looks wrong in landscape."
"The dragons fall over if you as much as breathe in their direction."
"I'll flip another dragon for you."
"Where's the other wizard? Oh, here he is. He fell in the bin."
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
There are many things that They have failed to give us. We were so totally promised a flying car by the year 2000, not to mention shiny silver clothes and instantaneous transportation. (I feel particularly aggrieved by their failure to deliver the last one of these. I mean, you can instantly send pictures, videos, audio files and information across the globe, yet when you want to move yourself, you're still sitting there at traffic lights or waiting for a ferry. It's so old-fashioned.) However, I can accept that flying cars might take a little bit of work to produce, but why, oh why, haven't They invented something that will stop books from falling over on shelves?

How hard can it be? I mean, just put a strip of something magnetic on the shelf, gild the bottom edge of the book's pages with metallic paint, and, bingo, all your books stay upright, good as gold. Plus, you also have an instant practical joke you can play on someone, if you insert a magnet in their book with the magnet arranged in the "like poles repel" position, so all their books refuse point blank to sit on the shelf, but leap up into the air and hover there like... well, like flying cars.

And if I can come up with this scientifically-flawless plan over lunch, I don't see why on earth They haven't come up something before now. Won't somebody think of the librarians?

Questing

Feb. 25th, 2009 09:39 am
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
This year's summer reading challenge is called Quest Seekers. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a stupid name? To me, it has shades of Pendle Hill (aka Hillhill Hill) in that "to quest" and "to seek" mean the same thing. It's supposed to convey excitement and adventure and daring, but to me it conveys a sense of aimlessness, in which the ultimate goal isn't snatching treasure from fiery dragons, but is just to find something you can start to search for. It's less finding the Holy Grail, and more wandering plaintively around the house trying to find your shopping list.

I will grant you, though, that "I'm seeking a quest" does make sense in the world of role-playing games, especially those computer-based ones, when you charge around a town, bumping into walls, tripping over prostitutes and getting trapped behind large cows, as you exchange inanities with various examples of local colour in the desperate hope that one of them will turn out to have a terrible infestation of three rather small beetles in his cellar, which, for some reason, require a group of heavily armed war machines and a mage of unfathomable power to remove.
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
I had to work today. Things occupying me included:

- The Quest for a Pencil Sharpener. This was so long and arduous that I think I need at least 5000 xps for completing it. In a building that has about 15 people in it, and which has a central store for all the stationery needs of 11 libraries, you'd think that pencil sharpeners would be lounging around in every corner, like sheep. But, no, they proved as elusive as scarlet pimpernels. I did find one eventually, but it was a pathetic specimen, that only gnawed the pencil in a vaguely toothless fashion. Unfortunately, I had to sharpen an entire box of coloured pencils. I now have blisters.

- Yes, I know it's quarter the price of Pritt stick, but it doesn't work! "Good value" doesn't just mean cheap, you know.

- While peering out of the window to see if the mobile library was going to magically return from the garage and save me the task of phoning 40 customers to say that it wasn't going out today, I saw a woman wandering around with flowers. Since we're next to a cemetery, I presumed she was heading there, and was interested to see how she would cope with the four foot wall, but then she rang the bell. They were for me!

- I also found Longclaw on my chair this morning. It's actually a late birthday present, but I think it works better as a Valentine's Day gift, on the grounds that it feels more amusingly inappropriate that way. I really doubt that High Street shops have a sword section in their Valentine's Day gift display.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
(Or "random nits," as I initially wrote.)

- Today is Bookstart Day, celebrating books for babies and toddlers. This year's theme is pirates. I spent the morning at a Mums and Toddlers group where all the 1 and 2 year olds were dressed as pirates. I do wonder why pirates - people who did some distinctly X-rated things - have become something principally for pre-school children. According to pre-school books on pirates, pirates are rather like ever so slightly mischievous toddlers, who have fun with parrots, have parties on deck, find treasure during sand and water play, and occasionally almost fight with their arch-enemies, before deciding to be friends and eating jelly and ice cream. How odd.

- Sainsbury's is confusing me. They've taken to asking me how many bags I've brought with me. Since I tend to grab my Bag of Bags, finding out how many I have tends to involve much rummaging and flustering, and usually comes out as about 9, even if I only use 3 of them, due to packing ever bag to bulging. I wonder why they need to know. Surely the only thing that matters is whether I've brought "enough" or "insufficient." They've also taken to calling all their staff "colleagues", even in notices addressed to customers. This seems odd to me. Surely you can't just be a colleague; you have to be a colleague of someone.

- I seem to have been talking about everything under the sun, lately, except for diary type things, so in the interests of rectifying this: Life was very cold, but the heating's been fixed this morning, so that's good. I have a very mild cold - so mild that I barely notice it, except when I wake up at 5 and can't get to sleep again, feeling feverish and sore throaty. Pellinor's away all weekend, sleeping on a straw mattress under a fake tiger skin, being attacked by goblins all night, and then I'm away on Sunday to go to Dundee - back on Tuesday night - in a complicated journey that took me all of yesterday evening to work out, and which involves almost every possible mode of transport except yak.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I always feel a very surprisingly strong feeling of outrage when I can't find something out of the internet. It's not as if I believe that "it's all on the internet now," to use the argument of head teachers who are closing school libraries across the land, and there are many, many occasions when I would turn to a book, rather than the net. However, when I want to look up a quick fact, apparently I expect the internet to have the answer. Librarians are forever hearing users wail "it isn't on the internet!" only to find said fact within a few seconds, utilising their super librarian powers. So when a fact does elude me, I feel this enormous sense of outrage, as if the very universe itself has betrayed me.

ETA: Ooh! 15 minutes ago, I could view my Friends page, but now it's been blocked by my work filter, so when I get home, I might have some great clues as to exactly what words it doesn't like. I still reckon it's something totally random, like parsnip or marmoset.
ladyofastolat: (Honey looking tired)
The cats are having their first incarceration in a cattery this weekend. We're dancing at a festival, and a chap's coming in to tile our kitchen and hall while we're away, and apparently even the feather-light touch of a cat's paw will utterly ruin a newly-laid tile. (Okay, admittedly I call my cats "thunderpaws" and laugh hollowly at the "cat-like tread" song, but, still, we're not talking elephants here.) I'm quite anxious and stressed about it, because there's no way to tell them that I'm not actually abandoning them like the last owner did, and I will be back.

(Also stressed by work – the lead up the summer holidays is always awful – though I don't know exactly what it is that's been giving me nasty dreams that make me feel out of sorts all morning. Three nights ago, a vampire was chasing me through an empty school and cornered me just as I woke up. Two nights, a bomber was circling overhead, having just destroyed Havant and probably started World War 3. Last night, everyone vanished – everyone)

But, anyway, getting away tonight is complicated, since I'd intended to leave work early (I worked until after 8 on Wednesday, at a parents' evening in school), but now probably can't do so… but maybe can, and I won't know the answer until it happens. We want to get a ferry off the island early enough to have our tent built before dark, but we also need to get the cats packaged up and sent off, and the cattery (understandably, since they have lives to lead) isn't that flexible about arrival time. "I think we only have a very narrow window to the get the cats into the cattery," I said, which prompts some very lovely images. :-)
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
[livejournal.com profile] philmophlegm (who clearly has too much time on his hands) has categorised this month's posts by his LJ friends, and has worked out the average number of replies each category gets. The highest scoring category is "neutral job news or observations". So here goes:

I have a job. It exists.

*sits back and waits for the comments to roll in*

Bomb!

Mar. 31st, 2008 12:01 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Eek! We've just been phoned up and told not to leave our premises because of a bomb!

EDIT: Midday: It's a 40 foot long pipe bomb, whatever that is. It's located about 500 yards away. *nervous*

EDIT 2: And I've got no lunch today! I was depending on the food van, but that won't be coming since all the roads are blocked.

EDIT 3 (12.15): It's a World War 2 bomb, apparently. I'm sure we're in no danger, or they'd have evacuated us - though quite where we could go, I don't know, since the only road out of the estate takes us a whole lot closer to the bomb. We'd have to go down to the river, I suppose, then get evacuated by boat. Starvation is the main danger facing us. The few who were organised enough to bring a packed lunch are looking very smug. We foodless masses might need to launch raiding parties and start some looting.

This post started small, but just growed and growed )

EDIT 10 (17.35): Am home! Am free! Have food in me! The cordon is still in place, so the drama is still ongoing, but they let us out.

And in all the excitement I quite forgot that, just before the drama started, I was chuckling over a book called "Basic ear training," and about an email recounting boss's boss's boss's meeting with "representatives of Mankind," and had meant to do a quick post about it at lunch time. Also about fire-fighters.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I am on Saturday duty today. In the 5 hours I've been at work, the phone has not rung once. I've received no messages through the issue system, and no emails. This is an event of such unprecedented incredibleness that the only possible explanation is that the rest of the world - or, at least, the rest of the island - no longer exists. It has probably fallen into a parallel universe, or else got eaten by aliens. I am the last human remaining. I'm not sure what to do first: start writing down the whole of human knowledge to preserve the memories of the old world, or start working on creating the new one.

I can't view my Friends page at the moment (my work filter says it's got a banned word on it) but since half my Friends list are at Oxonmoot (or, rather, would be there, if it wasn't for the whole falling into a parallel universe / getting eaten by aliens issue) I rather suspect that it might confirm this theory.
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
Well, Harry Potter has given me a lovely bruise on the inside of my arm. Quite violent, he was. And intransigent. He was in the form of a large display unit thingy that really didn't want to get into my car and then refused point blank to let itself be erected. It's all pointless, anyway. What's the point of having a dump bin that can hold multiple copies of a book that was snatched out of my hands the moment I entered the library, and we now have no copies of? "You're too late! Ha-ha!" it should read. We just don't have the money to justify buying 50 copies per library, since they'd all be sitting unloved on the shelves after a few weeks. It would be fun if we could. Everyone was talking yesterday about how Morrisons over the road was selling it for 4.99. We could stand in its carpark with placards saying, "Why pay 4.99? You can get it for free over the road" and steal all their customers. Actually, though, I'd rather do a display full of lovely books by Diana Wynne Jones and the like, labelled "Finished HP? A gaping hole in your life? Read these instead!"

No evil sorcerers descended to strike me down, so I guess my security arrangements passed muster.

I personally enrolled some 70 or 80 children in the Big Wild Read yesterday, each child requiring several minutes of happy, enthusiastic explanation. I was shattered by the end of the day. This led to wine. This led to a late night. This means that I think I am going to go back to bed now.

As for the book, I'm not a huge fan of the series, but I still like to read each book as soon as it comes out, so I can join in conversations. I like the books enough to read them eagerly, but not to reread them. No comments here, since this is a spoiler-free post, so all I will say is that I have now finished.
ladyofastolat: (Misty Glastonbury)
I missed out an apt line from folk song yesterday:
My hat it is frozen to my head,
My feet they are like a lump of lead
.

At present, I am sitting here at work, in a building that is assailed on all sides by wind, and cowering under a black and menacing sky. (The poor red squirrels are having a very challenging time trying to leap from branch to branch. It's become an extreme sport.) In an hour, I need to head into the direction of the worst of the blackness to go walking with dinosaurs. This walk will take place on the beach, near a very windy headland. If you never hear from me again...

And it gets worse. Tomorrow is Walk the Wight - a 28 mile sponsored walk across the whole length of the island, in which 6000 happy souls (5% of the population of the island!) wander in the sunshine through glorious scenery. Well, have you seen the forecast? Our mixed Morris team is going one better once again, and Dancing the Wight - i.e. doing it in relay, and dancing at every checkpoint. (I wanted to Mum the Wight - i.e. do it in our Mummers' Play costume, and perform the play in installments at each checkpoint, with proper cliffhangers. Strangely, no-one else agreed. I think it was the idea of having to carry the Turkish Knight's "corpse" for 6 miles that put them off.) Pellinor intends to do the whole 28 miles again, ideally avoiding falling into rivers this time. Last year, the local paper was rude about us. This year, I think we'll be upstaged by the chicken. Chicken interlude )

To make matters worse, my water-proof isn't. I think the dinosaur walk needs to take a diversion past Millets. I'm sure I can come up with some way to con the children into thinking it's a proper dinosaury place.

I've heard it said that, in America, they actually cancel things if it rains, or reschedule them to another day. How odd (if true.) (Alternatively, how completely sensible.) It must be strange to live in a culture that doesn't doggedly struggle on with summer fairs and walks despite torrential downpours, floods, gails and sub-zero temperatures.

EDIT: I was driving home over the Downs behind an open-top double-decker bus, that was very nicely decorated. "Island breezes", it read. I do like this very English mode of looking on the bright side, and making a virtue out of the discomfort. I think it should be extended to other things, like boats and horse-drawn carriages and the like. "The English Rain Drop experience!" Tourists will be queuing up in droves.
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
I'm working today. Things normally go very wrong on my Saturdays - floods (twice), power cuts, mass illness etc. Today all is calm, except for all the phone calls resulting from our ongoing Case of the Accidental Overdue Reminders. (It was the dodgy satellite dish wot dunnit.) I don't like being at HQ by myself, though. It's a noisy building, with lots of strange squeaks and groans that I never notice during the week, but which seem very loud when I'm all alone, the only human alive on the whole rather isolated industrial estate.

So I've been doing hard physical work to keep myself busy. A few weeks ago, the tall bookcase behind my desk collapsed under the weight of shelving catalogues, storytelling books, bulging box-files, and the National Curriculum. Actually, it half collapsed, and a colleague had just wandered over to investigate, when the rest of it collapsed, narrowly missing burying him. (I was out at the time.) "I could have been killed!" he squawked periodically for the rest of the week.

Today I finally got round to emptying junk out of another bookcase on the far side of the room, belonging to someone who has now left, and then dragged it laboriously across to behind my desk, where I filled it up and had good sort-out while doing so. It did strike me at times that I was probably being rather silly, struggling with a bookcase that was at least two feet taller than I am, when there is no living soul near me, except for red squirrels who don't tend to be that good in an emergency, but I managed it without accident. I now ache, but have a lovely tidy desk, windowsill, and floor space around my desk. And I bet Pellinor isn't even up yet, while I've done all this. [/smug]

We have an "unbirthday party" to go to tonight, and then I have a whole weekend to look forward to, since I'm off on Monday to make up for today. If I remember, I'll grab Casino Royale when I leave today, and pop it back tomorrow, so it can go out to its new home on Monday as planned. I never quite got round to seeing it at the cinema, although I wanted to.

Books

Feb. 19th, 2007 06:17 pm
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
I still feel distinctly ill and floppy, but struggled through a day at work, mostly spending it online, ordering books. The publicity for one book started thus: "Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers for ever. [This] is such a book." My initial reaction was to think, "What? Every few decades? More like every day."

Books change lives )

The Rights of the Reader )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I sat an exam today. Actually, "exam" is an insult to decent, hard-working exams everywhere, since it was one of those ones when you're allowed all your notes with you, so it's just a glorified comprehension exercise. I wasn't remotely nervous. In fact, I was more insulted than anything else. Can't they actually treat me as an adult and trust that I've learned something on this two-day course, rather than having to test me on my ability to read and regurgitate the handouts?

Musings on learning styles, handwriting and computers )
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
From a website of children's work done in libraries:

What will librarians be like in 2150?
- Dead
- They will all be really old and not able to walk
- Robots (this is a very popular answer)
- There will be a hotel next to the library. The librarians will do the night-time entertainment for people in the hotel
- They will wear purple skirts and peach blouses
- They will all be skating around on rollerblades
- They will be like giant jelly babies. When they get hungry, they will eat each other, but they will grow back later
- They will have 7 arms (to carry the books)
- Big, hairy and scary

Well, lunch time is almost over, so back to my training course (which, as you can guess, is on how to use this subscription-only website for children's book reviews and creative writing.)

EDIT (and irrelevant): GRRM fans who aren't members of the relevant GRRM communities might be interested to see this. No, it is not news of the new book, so don't get your hopes up...

Course

Jan. 16th, 2007 06:53 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I went to a course today on supporting adult learning - the first of three days spread over the next few weeks. Because of the timings of the ferries and trains, I had to leave home at 6.45 to get to a course that started at 9.30 in a place only about 15 miles away, as the crow flies. The half hour walk from the station at the other end didn't help with the timing, though.

Ice-breaker, and role-playing excess )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
It's project time at the moment, and I'm busy putting together several hundred boxes of project boxes for teachers for next term. I was just doing a box of traditional tales for 4-5 year olds, when a new book arrived. Here is its retelling of Rapunzel.

Rapunzel retold )

Thoughts on very simple retellings of stories )
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
Why is it so totally impossible to get the local press to tell you if they plan to come to an event, or not? You send out the press release, they receive it... and then you wait. You start the event. All the time, you have one eye on the door, in a mix of nervousness, resignation, and hope. Will they come? Do you dare tell the people at the event that the press might be coming? The minutes tick by. The event finishes. People go home. Okay, then. Another one they've decided not to bother coming to. Press-related grumbles )

To add insult to injury, on the way back from today's failed appearance by the press, I stopped off to buy lunch. I told them not to bother with a bag, and walked out with some lunch items balanced on the local paper. As I reached my car, a gust of wind took the paper, and hurled all my lunch into the air. It landed in one large puddle, and my car keys landed in another. I had to wade into the puddles to get them out, getting my feet and the hem of my (long) skirt drenched in the process. By then I was so confused and flustered that I tried to get into the wrong car.

Stupid newspaper. *grumbles*
ladyofastolat: (Default)
(...which, boringly, are two unrelated topics.)

Day off today, since I'm working on Saturday and Sunday, and, for some strange reason, didn't fancy working 12 days without a break. I can't really afford today off, since I have a tonne of things to get ready for the weekend, but, hey... Why on earth does Family Learning Week, Children's Book Week, Bookstart Day, and Family-friendly libraries day all happen in the same week?

Anyway...

Oxford )

Robin Hood )

And, talking TV, when is Torchwood starting?
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
So here is a question for the absolutely and completely unrepresentative group of people who read my journal: Should fiction in libraries and bookshops be arranged entirely A-Z by author, or divided into genre categories?

Arguments on both sides. Well, actually, arguments mostly on one side )

Weekend

Sep. 11th, 2006 08:12 am
ladyofastolat: (In comes I)
Too much to drink on Friday night. For future reference, it is not a good thing to say, "So what if I'm working tomorrow morning. Let's open up some Pimms."

Saturday, I worked. I was supposed to have a quiet day at my desk, catching up on work, but staff shortages meant I had to spend the day on the counter in a library. At least there were no floods, power cuts or other disasters this time. Things normally go wrong on my Saturdays on duty.

Sunday, we danced at the Bestival. The Bestival )

Today I have off, because I worked Saturday. Woo-hoo!
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
Our power at work has not been happy ever since Saturday. It magically fixed itself on Monday morning, but then went off again for an hour yesterday. (And, just after it came back, a server failed at County Hall, so all Internet access and email was down for the rest of the day.) It's just gone off again, so I've come home, to work (and have lunch) at home for a bit, before going out to do a storytime locally.

It was supposed be my last storytime of the summer. Tonight I was going to have my traditional "woo-hoo! I've finished!" glass of cherry wine, and relax. Tomorrow I was going to do a few things that need to be done before I go away on leave next week, and have the afternoon off.

The best laid plans... The library I was supposed to be storytelling in this morning had mis-read the date, and had plastered the town with posters advertising storytime tomorrow. So now I have to go back there tomorrow to tell stories, do my work in the afternoon, and not have half a day's leave after all. Much grring, much grring.

Then, on Saturday, we're off Up North to visit Pellinor's spectacularly large family (now bigger by a pair of twins since our last visit.) We also plan to meet up with various denizens of LJ - namely [livejournal.com profile] kargicq, [livejournal.com profile] chainmailmaiden and associated other halves and offspring. As far as I'm aware, the plan consists of going to Tynemouth Priory on Sunday to watch the jousting, and hoping to bump into each other in the crowd, after which we will make plans for some other excursion somewhere else on some other day. I have worrying visions of us still wandering round Tynemouth Priory in a week's time, plaintively trying to meet up, but I expect it will all work out.

I don't care what else I do, but I am definitely going to Barter Books in Alnwick. This time, though, we will be firm with ourselves and only stay for 4 hours, rather than 8.

GRRR!!!!

Aug. 12th, 2006 05:35 pm
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
It's our wedding anniverary tomorrow, but since I prefer to go out on a Saturday, rather than a Sunday, we were going to go out to dinner tonight. But first I had to work all day... and there was a power cut at Library HQ this afternoon, meaning I couldn't set the alarm etc. I called the electricity people, and someone is coming out this evening at 6 to take a look. He might fix it within minutes, in which case we can go to dinner as planned... but he might take hours, in which case my evening will be spent sitting in the dark at Library HQ, waiting for him to finish his work.

GRRR!!!!!!!!

(I'm also annoyed with myself for not reporting the problem the moment it happened. I tend to assume that power cuts will cure themselves in time, and that the electricty people are bound to know about it already and are doubtless working on it already, so I did nothing for far too long.)

EDIT: We're getting our dinner, though a little later than intended. The electricity man admitted defeat. Our building has been split in two, half of it belonging to someone else. He thinks the meter is in the other half of it, but I had no access to it. So no power until Monday, but I think I did all I could. I'm now going to drop a note through the door of the chap who lives two doors away, who also works at the next desk to me. If he knows something I don't know about how to fix this, then it's up to him to do it, becauseI'm off to dinner.
ladyofastolat: (Happy Hocky)
My first round of storytimes is over. I now have two days to prepare the next event, before starting my next grand island tour on Thursday. I'm working on Saturday this week, so I'm destined for a six day week, unless I can prepare my storytime in record time today, and then have tomorrow off.

The storytimes are aimed at children aged around 4 to 9. I start with some stories on the relevant theme. This can be a bit stressful sometimes. I blithly decide I'll do a storytime called "Rumble in the jungle," for example, and put up all the posters. Then, two days before the storytime, I start looking for stories, and find that all the jungle stories are boring. I then have to be creative, which can lead to arguments with children. "That's not about jungles," they complain, as I pick up my next book. "It's set at the North Pole." "I know," I tell them firmly, "but a monkey appears very briefly on page 95, on holiday from the rainforest, so it still counts." Most, though, get stunned into silence. Maybe they just assume that as I'm a grown-up, I know best. Or maybe, like me, they realise that it's better having an excellent story that doesn't suit the theme, rather than a "boring" one that does.

We then have a game. The game has to be one I can play with 70 children in a large library, or with 2 children in a tiny one. It can't single out individuals, because some of them cry. This is where the conning comes in. I just endlessly recycle the same 3 games - and no-one has ever noticed. They just see the accessories, and don't see the mechanics underneath. Last time, they played a game in which they had to build a silly alien from parts. This time, they're playing a game in which they have to blow up each other's pirate ships. They don't notice that both games are actually just a beetle drive.

And then a craft, which is also challenging, since I need to come up with something that can be done by 70 or 2. It needs to accommodate different ages, and have no more than about 30 seconds of adult intervention required. It really is quite limiting. As with the game, I tend to recycle variants of the same craft, and no-one notices.

Then I need something to give to those children who scribble wildly with a crayon for 2 minutes, then announce "I'm finished. What shall I do now?" half an hour before the end of the storytime. And then it's over. Children go home. I tidy up, breathe a huge sigh of relief... and go on to the next library to do it all over again.
ladyofastolat: (Bagpuss yawning)
Bits and pieces from the last few days )

Heat

Jul. 27th, 2006 05:08 pm
ladyofastolat: (Winter is coming)
I have come to the conclusion that I work in a strange alternative reality.

What I definitely work in is an oven. Library HQ is a square, metal box of a warehouse, divided into two storeys. Downstairs is rather too hot, but upstairs, where my desk is, is unbearable. Walking up those stairs is like descending (upwards) into Hell, each step taking you somewhere that's hotter and more airless than the last. There is no loft space, so the flat, metal roof is just above us. The only windows are south-facing, and we can't open them much. It's just awful.

However, the reason I think it's in a different reality is that the temperature inside doesn't match the temperature outside. Last week, when we had the hottest day yet in this heatwave, the temperature inside was less unbearable than normal. Today, though... Today was by far the worst yet - everyone said so. However, when I left work, I stepped outside into a pleasant cooling breeze, and a day that feels far less oppressively hot than it's felt for quite a while.

Odd.

(This icon is meant as a plea.)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Today is the start of the summer holidays. Today, too, is the start of The Reading Mission, this year's summer reading challenge in libraries. "Can you read six books during the summer holidays?" children are challenged. "If you do, you will get a medal."

The books can be any six books the children like. They can be fiction or non-fiction, easy or hard. No-one will complain if children decide to relax over the holidays by reading easy, non-challenging books. Because children can have totally free choice of books (well, as long as they are borrowed from the library, that is) they see the summer reading as fun. All too easily, reading can become a chore at school, and that can put children off. This way, even the least able reader can get a medal for their reading. For some, it is the first time ever that someone has praised them for an academic subject, and it can change their life.

(I bet you can't tell that I've spent the last few weeks writing press releases on this, writing to heads about this, and generally selling it to anyone I meet ;-) )

Anyway, every year, more and more children on the island take part. Every year, more and more of them rush in on the first day of the holidays to join. As a result, I'm spending all of today in the biggest library, helping to join people. Last year, I joined up 150 children on the first day alone. Each child needs several minutes of attention, because there are quite a few goodies to give to them when they sign up, as well as instructions. Central to the summer reading challenge ethos is that children get the chance to talk to library staff about books, and get listened to, so there's a whole lot of talking going on. I expect to return home tonight utterly exhausted, and with no voice.

But it's worth it. Children love it, and it's good for them, too. If anyone knows any children between 4 and 12, please tell them all about it. (If you know children under 4, they might be able to do it, too. I allow them to join in, on the grounds that you can still love books even if you can't read them, and getting a medal "for books" at 3 could make all the difference to a child's attitude to reading when they start school. However, not all library authorities let under 4s join in. Chances are, they'll have the Bookstart Book Crawl for 0-4s, though, which is similar in principle. It gives a lovely certificate every five library visits.)

Diary date

Jul. 18th, 2006 12:44 pm
ladyofastolat: (Evil laugh)
Well, it's not every day that you get to write "meeting at the police station to plan a murder" in your diary...

Ow!

Jun. 22nd, 2006 07:28 pm
ladyofastolat: (Oops)
An intimate encounter took place today between my finger and a pair of scissors. I won't go into details, because when I tried to tell Pellinor the details, he went "Ewww!!" and ran away, gibbering. Suffice it to say, I have now bonded with my new workplace, by ritually sharing quite a bit of my blood with its carpet.

Library-moving one-handed is hard.

The most annoying thing is that I intended to write all evening. My typing is reduced to about a quarter of its normal speed, and I just can't write creatively at that speed. My thoughts dry up unless I can type fast enough to follow them. So that's out.

I tried my XBox game, but my injured finger is the one I need to defend myself, so my poor heroic (and, I'm afraid to say, incredibly silly-looking) ninja gets minced up very quickly by sewer demons. There's no point even trying Guild Wars or other PC games, since my injured finger is the one I need to press the "move forward" key.

Ah well. I looks like I'll be reduced to spending my evening watching pretty, floppy-haired men be heroic and angsty, in Japanese with sub-titles. What a chore.

Oddities

Jun. 17th, 2006 03:55 pm
ladyofastolat: (Ni)
Despite working myself into the ground all week moving books, I had to spend today at a conference on safeguarding children. Under such conditions, one has to find one's humour wherever one can:

- According to the programme, my afternoon workshop was on "Common Valves."

- The morning speaker kept saying things like, "we need more teeth" and going on about tigers.

- There was a two-foot high door in the bottom of the stage. I spent a while imagining the civilisation of 18 inch people who lived under the stage - or maybe there's where the tigers live? Anyway, I then noticed that it said "this door must be kept locked AT ALL TIMES", which means that the people, or maybe tigers, can never get out, anyway. Poor things.

- The hand-drier in the toilets said it was a "World Dryer." I was scared to turn it on in case I caused drought in Africa.
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
I have just got home from another day of heaving huge boxes of books, demolishing shelves, carrying ginormous metal shelf uprights around, building shelves again, moving more boxes of books etc. etc. I am hot, filthy and exhausted. I can hardly stand. I can't walk without groaning. I can't bend down. I have blisters on my hands and feet, and scratches and bruises everywhere.

And they say that being a librarian is quiet and boring )
ladyofastolat: (Evil laugh)
I think my brain was a little mixed up yesterday evening, and not sure if it was in Eurovision mode, or Doctor Who mode.

When lots of cyberman came marching down the street, keeping perfectly in line, backs straight, faces impassive, legs rising up high as they walked, I just thought, "It's Riverdance!" And then I half expected the Doctor (or perhaps Buffy) to come rushing into Eurovision to take on the monsters who were representing Finland (having presumably killed and eaten the scantily-clad blondes who were supposed to sing the Finnish entry.)

Still, the cyberman did keep wonderfully in line. It's a shame our Morris dancers can never do that. Maybe a little upgrade is in order...

A day of tidying today, since Wightfrag is imminent, and the house is drowning in cat fur and Amazon packaging. I had to work yesterday, but most of that consisted of struggling along a beach in gale force winds, lashed by sand and rain, struggling to tell stories about dinosaurs to a valiant group of children who were walking from the dinosaur museum to the library as part of the island's Walking Festival.

Snarls

May. 10th, 2006 04:18 pm
ladyofastolat: (Hear me roar)
Styoopid work internet filter. It's only gone and seen fit to block the website for "RAW", a major adult literacy initiative, on the grounds that it's "entertainment." This now joins the long list of websites that I cannot view at work, despite them being vital to my job.

(I can, however, still view LJ. Is this the sort of situation when one is supposed to say "go figure"? I've never been quite sure.)

Also, I received a nice disc full of graphics and pictures that I can insert into my own leaflets and letters to promote the summer reading challange. Trouble is, they're 40 megabytes each, and crash my antediluvian computer on sight. Very useful, then.
ladyofastolat: (Happy Hocky)
I've spent all day in a library, experimentally categorising all the children's fiction. Since children always come in and ask for "an animal story," "a scary story" etc., I have been wondering if A-Z by author is the best way to arrange fiction. So now it is all done by category. We'll have to wait and see how people react, and if issues go up. If it doesn't work, I'll change it back.

Anyway, I'd just finished transferring around 200 books to the shelf mark "Scary Stories", when I realised that I'd actually typed "Scary Tories." This amused me sufficiently to outweigh the Grr-ness of having to change them all yet again. I don't know enough about current Tory MPs, sadly, but I wish I did, because I want to be able to categorise them as "Scary Tories", "Fairy Tories", "Funny Tories", "Animal Tories" or "Mystery Tories."

Refuting

Apr. 29th, 2006 05:20 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I have previously gone on about how attitudes to children's safety have changed in my life time, and how you never see children playing out in the street now or out on their bikes. I was wrong. Half the children of the Isle of Wight appear ot be playing outside my house, many of them with bikes. I do wish they'd do it more quietly, though.

I have also moaned about the lack of pretty men in computer games. Last night I started Guild Wars: Factions, and my choices of face for my male character could only be described as "pretty," "prettier," "pouty and lovely", "that looks like a girl," and "now, that one is definitely a girl." The clothes are swirly and pretty, too, and actually change colour dramatically when you spend a fortune on dye, rather than staying grey with just changing on the trim. Less varied choice of hair styles, though :-(

I was at work all day, merrily weeding books prior to the Big Move. This evening will be Guild Wars, with a break for Doctor Who. Not having watched Doctor Who when I was young, I don't have any emotional investment in the return of old characters. I am, however, very keen to see Giles as a baddy.

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